Healthcare Web 2.0 Risks?

I recently read the blog posting below from KevinMD.com and came up with a few questions from a Healthcare IT perspective:

1. Should these be social networking sites that are blocked by IT departments to minimize risks to the hospital?

  • I suspect some organizations will block these types of sites to minimize liability risk and give guidance to their affiliated physicians.

2. Is getting advice on one these sites any different the conferring with a physician over the phone?

  • From my point, not really. The only difference here is that the person on the end of the advice the physician may not know.

Do doctors who use physician-only social networking sites expose themselves to malpractice risk?

One of the newer trends is doctors using social networking sites like Sermo and iMedExchange.

Likened to a “virtual doctor’s lounge,” physicians can ask questions and speak freely knowing their posts will not be seen by, or released to, the public.

Often times, questions about patient management are asked, and it’s nice to have a quick response to queries by a variety of specialists.

In this piece from Medical Economics, some wonder about the liability risk about asking such questions. Although Sermo downplays the risk, attorneys say that a “user who gives bad advice on the site could find himself involved in legal proceedings if his name were to come out during a malpractice trial of the doctor who followed his advice,” similar to a curbside consult.

So, with professional organizations offering little guidance on how to proceed, it’s probably best to be careful about what you post, and how you act on the information gleaned from these sites.

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